- Where I Stand
- What I Didn't Say
- Why I Didn't Say It
- Why I'm Sharing Now
- The Rage
- What Now?
1. Where I Stand
I am a registered Democrat. With hope, pride, and confidence, I cast my ballot for Bernie Sanders in the primary election. With hope, pride, and confidence, I cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election.
I stand proudly behind both choices.
I am surprised, disgusted, and ashamed that millions of Americans voted for hate, white nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia, and the regression of women's rights. I am surprised, disgusted, and ashamed that I didn't do more to stop them.
(*I had heard it was bad out there, out there, outside The Bubble, but I didn't think it was that bad. I was wrong.)
2. What I Didn't Say
"Today we weep. Tomorrow we rise."
But I didn't weep.
And I didn't rise.
Of the many voices I challenged myself to listen to that day, the most absurd was my own inner monologue, and an intense preoccupation with how I would publicly respond. There would be a time to 'make a statement', I knew. But what kind? Would I be a Rise Above The Shadows Spiritual Person? A No Holds Barred Revolutionary? Whatever stance I took, it would not be emotional. Above all, I refused to be one of those people.
Some truthful, better part of myself gently invited me to wait it out. To live in reality before virtualizing it away.
Yet all day I composed and deleted social media posts in my mind. I even took notes for myself!
"November 10, 2016
I will talk about yesterday. How on the 7 train to work I thought about the following: 1) NYC has not looked this devastated since 9/11 2) the 7 train is the immigrant train 3) they might just use this train to reroute us to the new concentration camps 4) will our tax dollars pay for our own yellow stars?
I might talk about my smoothie and my renewed commitment to be healthy in body and mind, to begin training for the Resistance. I might talk about how I didn't watch his victory speech, how I couldn't. How I won't.
I will talk about my contemplation of why fascists fear artists, and my conclusion that it is because artists do not fear fear. I might talk about the women consoling each other in the bathroom. I might talk about the rain.
I might talk about the knowledge that until all the hate and fear of Other is expunged from our hearts, we cannot save this country or this planet.
I might talk about New Yorkers being kinder to each other on the subway, like after Sandy. I might talk about the mariachi band on the 7 this morning, and how we were all a little softer to them, how I wanted to lean over with my dollar and say, 'I'm sorry. You belong here. Thank you for your artistry.' Because what else can they do today but play?
I might talk about how John & I ended up singing Home On The Range together last night with our best Aussie accents, in the living room, eating breakfast-for-dinner from Terri, and how we watched Mindy anyway because America has not yet been cancelled. How he offered me dessert, because he thought it might make me feel better. How I didn't want it. Because of the training. For the Resistance.
I might talk about the Instagram post I Clarendon-ed in my mind, with my two passports side-by-side, I would somehow artfully lean them against my suitcase, and the caption would be "Checking my privilege in a whole new way. #CarryOn"
I'll talk about how social media makes us passive, how it makes us feel like we've done something, like all those new studies that show if you tell people about your goals you are less likely to achieve them. In the old days you had to go to a meeting. At least, if nothing else, you had to seek the 3D company of like-minded souls.
I might wonder about the Free Speech I employ to publish whatever I choose to publish, I might wonder where those rights will go now. I might wonder about my safety, and remember why fascists are afraid of artists.
I will talk about the rage."
But I didn't post any of that, at least not until now. And thank God, I congratulated myself, because everybody else did. So when Chris Rock mocked the "big day of mopin' and writing on Facebook" of Nov 9, I rejoiced. Because I was not that person. This time. Victory!
3. Why I Didn't Say It
Also, I'm not famous. No one cares what I have to say.
"YOU'RE NOT FAMOUS! NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!" That's what I wanted to shout at my phone, over and over, to almost everyone I claim to be friends with, in the first Facebook-addicted days after the election, a most bizarre misdirection of rage and judgement I chalk up to an incredibly bewildering time.
The inner monologue did not stop on November 9. It even responded to itself - to the 'notes' I had written to myself on November 10:
- You can't comment on what NYC looked like after 9/11 because you weren't there. Everyone knows you are not a real New Yorker if you did not live here then so you just need to STFU.
- You can't post about doom & gloom and the new concentration camps when you are supposed to be a yogi and a warrior of light. Also, give me a f***ing break with the bit about the stars. You want to make it about Jews to make it about you, so you get to feel and seem less white, when everyone knows Muslims and Mexicans have so much more to fear. Probably nothing is going to happen to the Jews anyway, at least not in New York, so just STFU already.
[This was, of course, in those golden moments before Bannon was announced as chief strategist, before we began to see the sharp rise in NYC hate crimes as well as those across the country, the defacement of a Brooklyn playground, and Richard Spencer's rousing neo-nazi event in DC.]
- In training for the Resistance? Srsly? What the actual f*** are you going to do? Are you willing to risk your safety for a stranger's? That's cool that you were able to rise above a chocolate chip cookie, but aren't you actually just trying to get fit anyway because you're shooting in a couple weeks? Are you for real trying to use a national tragedy, a humanitarian crisis, the advent of a new regime that may very well unravel civilization...as a convenient excuse to try to get cute for the camera? STFU.
- You can't say the thing about expunging hatred of the Other from our hearts. Then you are no better than the Love And Light People telling everyone how to feel. You may as well start sharing articles from Elephant Journal.
- Are you *sure* it was a mariachi band and not some other kind of band? Are you implying, assuming, that those musicians are undocumented? They don't need your pity, your apology or your not-that-white guilt. You didn't even give them that dollar because they walked away before you finished getting your wallet out and you didn't care enough to shout after them.
- It must have been fun singing Home On The Range all snuggled in with your Aryan boyfriend and your vegan takeout and your college degrees and your unexpressed art and your sister's Hulu password. America isn't cancelled for people like you anyway so STFU.
- Don't pretend like you're all running away to Canada in protest. Srsly. You're going to shoot a tiny pilot, and you will be gone for four days. #CarryOn *would* actually have been a bit clever for the luggage pic and would have helped the people who didn't immediately get "checking my privilege", but also it's a little bit of a mixed metaphor because are you checking the suitcase or is it carry-on? Also, who puts their passports in checked baggage? STFU. Be better.
- You should talk about the rage though. It's important to talk about the rage.
4. Why I'm Sharing Now
It occurs to me that while I am peculiarly unafraid of white supremacists - their insults, threats of violence, and genocidal aspirations; I remain deeply, wholly and fundamentally afraid of 'not being woke enough', of unwittingly embodying white fragility, ally theatre, a reluctance to self-educate. I am terrified of doing and being all those things People Like Me are supposed to be Better Than.
But silence is worse.
Silence says this is not my fight.
Silence says let's give him a chance.
Silence says your human rights are worth less than mean people on the internet confronting my way of being in the world.
Silence keeps us separate from those who are different from us.
And it always has.
5. The Rage
Then I went back.
These are his people. This is his America. We can't ignore them anymore.
And I made myself watch.
These are his people. This is his America. And now...we all are.
Just a few days earlier, on that fateful morning of Nov 9th, I had discovered some brief moments of lucidity amidst the haze, observing myself experience the purest, most primal form of revulsion. For Them. Those Sick Idiots That Did This To Us. Those ignorant and wholly deficient supporters. I challenged myself to feel it all, to name it, accept it, to live in it, to embody it. The bile, the judgement, the stomach churning, the bitter loathing, my heart pounding with resentment, the pressure in my head mounting from a hatred so deep as to defy description.
This is what hate looks like.
This is what hate feels like.
This is the same hate, I told myself. Hate is hate.
And still it oozed from every fiber of my being. From rage to beyond rage. Rage is a fire - passionate, energetic, it can be harnessed, redirected, channeled into something better.
This was thick, slow, dark, and unrelenting.
Is this the same hate?
Is this the same hate?
The only way out is through.
6. What Now?